Wednesday, December 30, 2009


8a has always seemed to be a really big, unattainable, almost mystical number to climb. Lately, it doesn't seem so far fetched for me to picture myself completing a climb with a number like that.
Since I can now say that I climb v10, it seems silly that I have never even attempted anything harder. I've always had, and continue to have, this attraction to climbs that just happen to be rated v10. I'll walk up to something really pretty and invariably it always is rated v10. So naturally, thats all I've climbed. Since my spree earlier this month I have made it my small quest to break out of my habit and try an 8a or v11.
I started thinking to myself about all these hard climbs that I wanted to do that I didn't know the ratings for (all turned out to be v10 by the way...). So I started asking people who climbed harder than myself what some of their favorite climbs were. This inquiry turned to whether or not any of them were actually v11's.
"You should try Rumble in the Jungle." One friend said. "That's a v12." I replied.
It felt wrong to skip v11, 8a, all together and go to v12. So I began my research for a v11. I looked in my Hueco guide book and found that after v10, the amount of climbs that exist at the v11 rating or higher drops considerably.
"v12 in Hueco is easier than v11 anyway. You should just try a v12." my friend said...
I can't believe that. What is wrong with v11? In Europe there are tons of 8a's. You could say it's a popular grade. So why are there so many more v10's?
Is it because they are easier?
Do people just not like uneven numbers?
Whats the deal?
So, I am now on my search for the perfect v11, for me. I don't want a gimme either. I don't want to hear ANYONE say, "Oh that thing is really v10."
The search is on.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Happy holidays to all, I've had my hands full as of late but here is what you missed!

My last post was of a beautiful day of sending double digit boulder problems. I took two days off then headed back out to the Priest Draw with Jill Church. It was a very very crisp day and we struggled to stay warm. I have a little vid clip of Jill looking like a masked bandit that I'll embarrass her with on another day...
We kidded around for most of the day but because of my send day I was ampted to try my long time project, The Receptionist. So I lit the burner under our feet and we booked it down to the Mars Roof. On our way I spied a heart shaped rock. Now I have to preface this occurrence by saying that I see hearts everywhere and I have been known to hold certain superstitious attitudes. I commented to Jill on what I had seen followed by, "I'm not sending the receptionist today. Everytime I see a heart shaped rock something goes wrong." And she replied, "That sounds to me like a self defeating prophecy." We'll see, I thought.
Walking up to the Mars Roof we were greeted by a runway strip of pads already laid out beneath the climb. Wow! I'm usually there all by myself without a spotter let alone three extra crash pads! Word.
I hadn't been out there in more than 2 months so I attempted the end first. I didn't catch the crux hold until my second warm-up attempt but thought it best to try it from the bottom anyway.
Walking up to those holds was like being home.
"Hello, my old friend." I whispered to the rock.
There is something about being out at that roof. The trees speak in hushed rustles and there are always hummingbirds (save in the wintertime). I've often imagined Navajo or Hopi tribes having large meetings and sitting on the perfect thrones around the roof.
I set up my brand new camera, pressed record, walked to the start holds. The others were talking about a new area near Sedona when I started climbing. I tend to like having a distracted audience.
I bounced through the beginning moves with a well rehearsed rhythm. When I latched the telephone (the crux hold of the climb) I bore down. Even though I hit it low I thought to myself,

"Just don't let go!" So I moved with measured preciseness, I kept my breath strong. It was a blur throwing for the top jug but when I hit it, I awoke with a holler!!! YEAAAAH. haaaaa.
I just sent The Receptionist!
F-yeah. I'm 5'1" and I can't tell you how many times I've heard that I'm probably too short. Or that I need to use the heel beta (which I can't reach) or try another climb on that roof or whatever. Who cares. I did it. And I can't help but think that it was something in my mind that was holding me back all the time. Jill mentioned to me once that I tend to "savor things." Meaning that I work and work and work on things that I could really just send. That week made her statement sound too true for me to not accept. Thanks Jilly for being so wise.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A good day

I was so comfortable in my bed this morning.
I carried Ava on my shoulders through the snow down to Montessori, studied a bit then prepared to head out for a short day of grappling. I picked up Kim with her brand new BD Mondo which barely fit into my volvo (good thing I forgot my dog) and we headed out to The Draw.
Pottery Wall was a veritable solarium and we basked in the warmth of the sun in our tank tops and casually commented on the snow all over the ground. A red tail hawk flew overhead and we felt lucky to live in Flagstaff.
My warm ups went, but they didn't feel easy.
We headed to the Puzzle Box Roof and padded up Cosmic Tricycle sit (v10). I had been trying it before Thanksgiving and was starting to get frustrated by my inability to latch the top hold. I worked out some new beta for the ending, cranked the Ting Tings and prepared for attempt #1.
I rejoiced at the top feeling vindicated after putting myself through mental anguish for not sending over the four days I had worked it.
We can really be hard on ourselves can't we?
I was still psyched about my send when we headed over to The Black Roof. To my surprise I did the "easy" problem on the left first try. (And that thing always feels hard.) So I decided to work out some beta for The Black Hole (v10) which starts on the right side of the black roof and traverses across it finishing on the most awkward problem in the Priest Draw. I hadn't been able to do the first move for years (like 4.5) and I hit the pinch my first try. I thought to myself, "Wow, that felt kinda easy. Weird." So I started working the next couple moves and thought to myself that I would work on it from the start cause its kinda long (13 moves +) and maybe one day I'd just gain the right endurance to send it. So I spotted Kim on her problem and we chatted for a bit and I decided I'd just try it from the start.
I hit the first hold and it felt good. I grabbed for the second hold (a shallow slimper) and stuck it. I scrambled my feet to push for the third long move to a small crimp. Stick. I jammed my right foot in a hole and made a very big cross, my feet swung and I stabbed them to the wall. Stick.
Oh cuss. What am I going to do now? I hadn't worked out the beta? I hear Kim behind me, "Go for it, you can do this." So I cut my feet and campused for four moves on good holds. But then I had to finish up on that sh*tty problem that is so awkward and hard. I hear her again say, "You just this one, you know this ending. You can do it." I pasted my feet to the wall, shook out my numb hands and pushed for it. Stick, stick, stick.
Holy cuss, I just did 2 v10's in less than an hour. !!!
This was by far the best climbing day I've ever had. And the season has just begun.
I feel strongly that most of this sudden ability has been locked away in my mind. A fear of success? Not realizing full potential? One thing is for sure. I know my potential now and I'm not giving in to old habits. It's okay to be humble but not to a fault. When humbleness holds you back from success is it worth all the hard work? It's okay to succeed and be happy about that success.
I worked really hard to get here.
I think I'll let myself enjoy this one.

Video coming soon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hueco dreaming...

I know I'm supposed to be studying for my physics final but I can't help but dreeeeeeam.. dream dream dreeeam.. dreeeeeeam. about Hueco Tanks.
I made a last minute whirlwind trip a few weekends ago with my friend Kim Haase. We played hooky from school and drove 8.5 hours for three days of hot hueco temps, bitch'in rock climbs, and stylish company. I climbed like cuss but I had fun, ain't that whats its about...
Now, I've set my sights on training the right holds, the right angles, the right... oh who cares. I'm just so psyched that all I want to do is rock climb. I made a list of possible projects, half of which I've only seen once, some of which have good names, and some I've been lusting after for years. I am determined to have a different season than last year. My M.O last year was, "I fall off the last move of boulder problems." This year, my pre-emptive M.O. is "I crush these boulder problems." Can it be as easy as changing your mental approach? Maybe I should consult Thomasina Pigeon or Jill Church. They seem to have no problem crushing these boulders.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Unmotivate your fear: Flying and Climbing

Lately (as in the last 6 months) I've been delving deep into my head and exposing my weaknesses. When I turned 25, something very odd started happening to me, I began to fear. I grew up traveling with my parents. Car trips from our home in Louisville, KY down to Florida, Colorado, Canada, even Mexico. When I was 10, my father accepted a job and we all moved to Hong Kong and the travels we did from there, well, they were exotic. So, who'd a thunk I would start to fear flying in an airplane??? But it happened. Followed by a fear of heights and the ocean. WHAT!!! I started surrendering my will to my fears and instead of them just quietly backing down into the narrows of my mind, they ruled it. When we flew from LA to NZ last spring my fear of flying was at an all-time high. Every bump sent me into a near heart attack/ panic attack (and it was a very bumpy flight). My fear was starting to exhaust me. When we landed in New Zealand, I spent 3 blissful months until the prospect of getting back on the airplane entered my head when we were still two months from returning home, enter my anxiety once again.

Fear builds on itself.

When it comes to high ball bouldering, you have to trust yourself and before you try a climb look at it, know your ability and assume you can and will do it before you get on it. So I started small, got a little bigger, then a little bigger. My first high balls were probably really scary to watch as I lost all sense of technique at the top of climbs and my fear would send my feet skating and my hands clambering for the top (GASP). But the more I did the more I could relax when I got high off the ground. This sense of relaxation when the fear started to set in was a technique I started using in more than just climbing.

photo by Derek Thatcher

Replace fear with a positive feeling.

A few days before we set off back across the ocean on our 12 hour flight, I started meditating on the idea that flying was fun. I imagined myself tucked in an economy chair with clouds floating out the window. I didn't imagine a bumpy flight or Ava misbehaving. I meditated on the idea of a perfect, bump-less, relaxed flight. And boy do you get what you put out there. The flight home was about as nice and relaxing as a flight can get.
When we returned home I didn't have much time to think about my fears, with friends visiting, family to catch up with and summer in full swing. It wasn't until Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in SLC that I got to address my fears again. I hadn't taken a lead fall in, hmm, 3 1/2 years or so. I met up with some friends Jonathan Seigrist and Andy Mann and we decided we weren't going to let the intense heat keep us off the rock. But I didn't have a harness. Outdoor Retailer always comes through. I got a brand new Arcteryx R-280. Now I have to interject here. Have you seen these harnesses? Have you tried them? They are so barely there its like you aren't even wearing one. And the technology is serious. I do not worry about my harness. Part of my fear of heights is increased exponetially when I climb routes. It's not that I'm scared of the climbing, I'm scared that my gear is going to fail. I look at the rope as I clip it into the quickdraw and as it bends my fear says, "The rope is going to break!" Or as I'm staring at the anchors while I'm cleaning my fear says, "The anchors are going to blow." It's my unfamiliarity with my gear and the fact that I have to trust something other than myself and my spotters that motivates my fear. But that day out with Andy and Jonathan I asked them not to tell me grades and I lead everything I got on. My fear was in check. I took my first whippers in years and with these two as climbing partners I felt safe and motivated by something more... flirting.

Photo by Andy Mann

Fear can be secondary to fun.

This experience catapulted me into a new phase of my climbing: Rout'in!! I now have a feeling to replace my fear when I climb high balls or routes. I flirt with the rock and I have fun with it.
Fear builds on itself. Replace fear with a positive feeling. And say to yourself, "Have fun." That's what its about anyway right.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

UC MAG #33........GO OUT AND GET IT!!!!

The new Urban Climber is OUT, and look who gets a shout out on the COVER!!!

Photo by Andy Mann

Just click on the photo to read the interview.

Thanks for reading!

The Mark

The flu has hit. It knocked me down for 5 days. Flu: 2 Carrie: 0 . I get winded just sitting on the couch so I thought I'd wrap up some long awaited projects.

June 2008, I had an idea whilst driving with my friends Greg Locker and Shadow Ayala through the blazing hot western desert. I wanted to make a film based on the question, "What is The Mark?"I was seeing this theme in everything around us, so why not document it and see how it presented itself in our lives as well as the lives of stranger who had left their mark all around us. The West is full of small ghost towns, graffiti on old gas stations, abandoned furniture in strange places. It all seemed so connected somehow though it didn't quite congeal until I took out my camera and watched the world around me from a new point of view: the outsiders. I'd love to hear any of your points of view so feel free to chime in!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Obscurity Tour: Ralph Machio

Jason Jackson and I headed out yesterday to one of Flagstaff's obscure five star problems. Its located off the beaten path of West Elden and presents a style of climbing that is unlike anything else in Flag. You begin on a sloping rail tick-tacking yourself to the bulge where you make a karate kick (the Ralph Machio move) to find whatever foot hold will allow you to reach up and negotiate with a series of nipple sized "holds" trying with every move to roll more of your weight onto the precarious standing foot that is squeezing to stay put allowing you to finally grab the "Thank you god" hold at the top. Jason dispatched this so quickly I didn't have time to bust out my your stuck with footage of me. Enjoy, and happy hunting.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009



Please come out Sat the 26th to the Vertical Relief Climbing Gym on San Francisco Street in Flagstaff for my slide show on climbing, surfing, and traveling in New Zealand. I'll be presenting Kyle George (my husband) photos and narrating a bit. I'll also be showing a little film that gives a good idea of what climbing in New Zealand is all about!!! This event is free and there will be a BBQ before hand so BYOB and bring something to put on the grill. There will also be a raffle with great prizes from my sponsors including a PrAna outfit, Mad Rock shoes, VooDoo gear, and MORE!! Raffle tickets are only $5. Bring a friend and be ready to see photos of secret crags, private surf spots, high ball boulding, and raising a child in the outdoors of New Zealand is all about! See you there!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kick'in it Old Skool with John Sherman

This past season I noticed that all the great climbs I had been doing were all put up by John Sherman. I'd walk off the top of one asking, "That was great. I wonder who FA'd it?" The answer John Sherman. Or "Who was crazy enough to come out here and put up this amazing thing?" (The Devil's Butthole, Hueco Tanks)... John Sherman. The list goes on. It seems I had fallen into a path of synchronicity with climbs by the legend known as "The Verm". To my delight he drove his self contained 4 wheel drive Ford Van over to see what Flagstaff had to offer in the hottest months of the year. But I'll tell you, what we got was a lightning and thunder filled day in amongst the ferns and some fun, rarely/ if ever, climbed boulder problems. I followed his lead up line after line, brushing off holds as we went and knocking for loose rock. I learned more about bouldering's bold beginning's in one day with Sherman than I have in 8 years of climbing. It was a great opportunity for me to talk about the relevant issues in climbing today and what the future may hold.
If I came away with anything it's this:
Be simple with your climbing motivation. Be bold but know your limits and risks. Know when to walk away. Don't chase grades but style points. It's not what you do, it's how you do it.

Here is a brief segment from our day. Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Forward MOVEment

Hello! We are back in the USA and for all of you who have been following us on surfandstone thank you for your attention. Since our return I've been busy catching up with friends, writing for magazines (coming soon), finishing up a short film of climbs in NZ, and of course climbing! This is just a shorty to let you know I'm back and will be posting on this blog primarily. Thanks for hanging with ME!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Zealand

We will be traveling through New Zealand for the next 4 months and I will only be posting on
Please come and check out our travels!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

First Female Ascents

If a woman has already done a climb are you more likely to try it?
In the world of climbing there are ascentionists: first ascenters, second ascenters and so on. The first ascenters are the climbers who envisioned a problem, brushed off the holds, and climbed a problem first. They are named in guide books and written about in magazines. A first ascent is known as an FA, pretty much anything after that is forgotten. But what of the female first ascent or FFA. There are those ladies in our community that seek them out and pour their hearts into them hoping they will be the first female to ascend. There are others who don't necessarily seek them out but find pride in the fact that they are the first woman to do a problem. These ascents are usually undocumented save those in the descriptions of 8a scorecards and personal blogs or diaries. The female that did the climb isn't named in guide books, and usually is only talked about in casual conversation. Is the FFA even relavent?
As a female I usually just assume that a guy has put up a problem, named it, and given it a grade. How that grade applies to me is usually just a number. (I'm 5'1" with an enormous amount of flexiblity which are two strengths usually not possessed in a male.) For me, grades are neither a motivating or a limiting force. I've tried problems that I thought were way easy that have really high grades and I've also had to work really hard for problems that have a comparatively low rating. It's all relative right? It's the problems, regardless of their grade, that bout climbers of both genders that are truly hard. For when you have to work at something isn't it more worth doing in the end?
In the case of the quick trip to a new area, I find that it's advantageous to know where to start. Guidebooks can tell you where things are and what they are rated and whatnot but I often find myself asking friends, who are women, who have either been to the area or live there, not men. If I have heard that a woman did a hard problem in the area I like to find out what it is, where it is and at least try it. If I know a woman has already done a certain hard problem and it continues to bout other women, then I know it's truly hard.
Why don't we talk about FFA's, are they so rare? Why aren't there two ascents listed in the guide book, a sort of democratic court that decides the true grade of a problem. Here we go again with a debate over grades. I like to plead the Sharma fifth here and just say, "I don't do grades." This way I can be innocent of any opinion pushing and grade dropping.
Picture this: A high ball, a classic V5 highball that has sat in your back yard for five years. It's a perfect climb that has always been in the back of your mind of things to try. What if one snowy day you go out and witness a woman, possibly even a woman with a child, send this problem without hesitation her first try. Flashed. Are you more likely to try it?
Knowing that a woman has done a climb and knowing that she isn't 5'9"++, it makes that problem all the more accessable. More within my reach both literally and figuratively. It's an inspiration. And isn't that what we all need, a little inspiration to push us just a bit harder, a bit farther, a bit beyond what w previously thought was possible for us. Isn't that what climbing is about: Discovering what is possible? FA or FFA, both efforts are significant in their own way. Now if we could just see more female FA's!

Monday, January 26, 2009

i don't discriminate

Hueco Tanks. A dumpster for debauchery.
It's the formal park: Hueco Tanks Historic State Park that draws us all to pristine El Paso, TX. It's an amazing outcropping of made-for-humans-who- climb boulders in the middle of the desert. You see more border patrol than po-po's, and the rules of the park are dern strict.
So as it follows, when there are lots of rules, there are lots of rule breakers. Outside of the park it is precisely this.
We rolled in to Shindagger at about 8pm with a party in full force. Ricky O's smoked pork butt, grilled veggies, beer, bonfire, and a booming sound system greeted us weary travelers. The occasion: Bush's last day of office. Farewell You Dog Party complete with a burning effigy. This was like an open door. "Please, come in and be as rowdy as you like. "
The first day was pretty safe. We took a tour to the East Spur where I did a pretty cool climb called "This is your brain on..."(v9) my second try. It was affirming to start my tour this way. I felt like this was going to be THE send trip had waited for. I was only mostly wrong.
Jill was sooo close to doing Better Eat your Wheaties on her 4th day on! Inspiring.
I was forced to then take two rest days because of an accident involving a picnic table and some concrete that sent Ava and I to the ER. Without divulging too much, I will say that the ER does things to your head. On my next day of climbing I felt all in a tizzy. I fell off the last move of The Egg in the East Spur, couldn't touch a problem I had all but mastered the time before...I did do a few classics (Moonshine Roof was awesome!) but more importantly it was this day that opened my mind to CHOSS.
I just don't know what happened? We went to the Sausage Factory (East Spur) which is cold and shady and I needed some sun. So I walked around and found this 4 move problem with really small holds that looked like they were the ear that Van Gogh tore off. It was serene until the rest of the tour showed up to see where Carrie had gone and immediately the sh*t talking began. "What a great problem Carrie. wow...I think two 10 year old's did this thing yesterday." blah blah blah...
So I obviously had to flash it. They were all psyched as I passed through the crux cross move to the worst hold I've ever touched in my life and then spotted as I threw a series of heels to top out. Clapping followed as did more sh*t talking when we found out what it was: "Stubby the Bush Veldt" (v10). HA! This one dude that I had just met seriously considered withdrawing his introduction to me. To him and all other sh*t talker I say, "Don't be a hater." I'll take the v10 rating, I don't discriminate. At least I can say I did it.

The following day we rhomped West Mountain like we were in the military. Hiked up to the Dragon's Pen and found where the mountain lion live. This is me after I fell off the last move of 1969 (v9) my first and only good attempt! What a fantastic problem. Now I have yet another problem I have to go back to!
Since I'm a chossologist, it was only right that I find a choss FA to do.
See, even the choss in Hueco looks good. We escaped the rangers peering eyes by hiking up to Body Snatchers (B.S) at the top of West. A classic 4 star hueco roof with a beautiful view of all of hueco. So after I threw myself at the prime prob on the roof, I decided to break some rules. I spied some holds to the right and started trying a new line. Amongst the poo talk from the peanut gallery who were busy laughing at anyone who made it to the top out of B.S. (which was EPIC at the end of the day. Took me about 3 minutes just to pull the roof and I had to use a calf lock!) Anyway. My project, "i don't discriminate", pictured above, attracted the attention of everyone on the tour including our poo talk'in guide who took more attempts on it than anyone. ps. it's still a project if you can find your way up there.
The night following our west mnt. rhomp was full of 10 oz. filet mignon and patron marguaritas followed by an 80's dance party. This is a picture of the morning after at the Shindagger Ranch. Coffee, leftovers, and a beautiful desert sun. After burning Bush, sending, a trip to the ER, falling, hiking, steak and shrimp, AND break dancing it is safe to say that I left IT ALL in Hueco. It's kinda like therapy.
Self portrait at the top of west on our last day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A "Takis" Kind of Day

Some days are just destined to be interesting. This afternoon bouldering session with Dustin, Jackson, Ava and Engbring was everything it could have been plus plus. I got an ambitious text from Jackson saying they were headed down to the Monster Roof, which in the 3 feet of snow was going to mean a lot of falling, post holing, and time. But alas, the men became men and Engbring took Ava on his shoulders ( Thankfully so, cause I bit it quite a few times along the way.) and we set out in search of the sun. And ps....Happy Birthday DKish!!! meow meow

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy New Year!

Since it's been snowing like mad and we've been stuck in the house with nothing better to do...